Thursday, May 5, 2016

Summer Palace, Beijing

A few weeks ago, I had my two-week vacation of the year. As residents, we get a healthy amount of vacation time a year, but the crux is we don't get to decide when we get it. We request holidays, weddings and important events ahead of time, but you can only predict so much a year ahead of time. I was lucky that I had Christmas and New Year's off my intern year to go home to Maryland, but for my two weeker I split it up between Beijing and Denver.

For most people, Beijing is an exotic locale, but for me it's where my extended family live. I rarely go out into the city and have already done all of the touristy sights (see my last visit here), so mainly just chill at home with my grandparents and aunts. This time, two of my cousins had babies! JJ and I are no longer the youngest kids in our families. Make way for the great-great grandchildren!
Niece #1
My extended family

The one fun thing I did this time (other than doing enough shopping to last me the rest of the year) was go to the Summer Palace with my mom. As a California girl now, I wanted to get my urban hike on, and where better to do it than one of Beijing's biggest parks?

 Mom's first sefie

 Acting out my "huan zhu ge ge" fantasies....where is my Wu A Ge?

Other activities in Beijing included shopping (my relatives would literally drop me off at the mall every day) and eating, mainly by myself. Not complaining, especially when I'm showered with so much money (exchange rate is 6 RMB=1USD) I don't even feel like I'm spending real money. 

 Bubble tea qday...this one was cranberry and rose! 
 Chinese spin on ramen 
 Traditional Beijing restaurant
 Jia jiang mian
 Pretty seafood, but inedible
 Rainbow sushi (also not very good)
 Japanese tofu
 Foil fish

I didn't have big plans for this trip other than spend some time with my mom (we flew out of opposite coasts to meet up across the world) and my grandparents. I accomplished that goal and came out with some good meals, good family time, and a whole new shoe closet!
I filled up an empty briefcase with 10 pairs of shoes (to be fair 2 were for my sister ;)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Big Sur

In the midst of studying for Step 3, the last of the 3 medical licensing exams I have to endure before I I have to sit for the the Internal Medicine boards (the last last exam I have to take before I can practice independently) at the end of residency, I was of course procrastinating. And rediscovering my love for blogs (started following this one and this one, both run by awesome girl bloggers in San Francisco!). And lamenting how I don't blog more. 

While it's true my free time has taken a dive in residency, my interest in photography and blogging hasn't waned. I do still take photos, it just takes a little longer for them to get them across. I stumbled upon these pictures of Big Sur I took at the beginning of the year, back in August. My friend A and some of her friends were visiting from NYC and invited me on their road trip down the 101. 

While Big Sur was a great place for photo ops along the side of the road, if I had to do it again I definitely would have done my research. First of all, I assumed the drive would take only around an hour to an hour and a half (never believe your out of town friends). Little did I know the trip would take three and a half hours from SF, literally halfway to LA. (I know, this probably seems obvious, but what can I say? I was a n00b). This made for an abbreviated trip as we all had plans back in the city that night. 

Second of all, we had absolutely no itinerary and literally hopped out of the car when we saw a nice overlook or cliff. While we stumbled on some awesome sights like Bixby Bridge, we also missed some of the highlights like McWay falls, Pfeiffer beach, and hiking in the state park. I'm not planning on making that 3.5 hour trek anytime soon, so that's always going to be a regret of mine. 

The beauty of Big Sur is undeniable though, and I would have loved to have more time to spend here walking on the beach or hiking. You feel like you're experience the raw beauty of California there.

 Bixby Bridge
A and I reunited on the West Coast 
Partington Cove 

Big Sur ended up being beautiful, especially as the weather cleared on our way down the coast. Next time I go, I would be better prepared and even stay a night to avoid the 3.5 hour drive back. It'd be the perfect excuse to go glamping!